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Man claiming Placa sex abuse turns down bishop's meeting

Richard Tollner talks about the church reinstating Alan

Richard Tollner talks about the church reinstating Alan Placa. (Dec. 6, 2009) Credit: Pablo Corradi

Richard Tollner has rejected Bishop William Murphy's invitation to meet with him following the Vatican's clearing of Msgr. Alan Placa on allegations he sexually molested Tollner in the mid-1970s.

Tollner, 50, a former Westbury resident who now lives near Albany, said Friday that he was invited to meet with Murphy next Monday. But he said Wednesday he will send the bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre a letter telling him to forget it.

"After seven years of being ignored . . . I don't understand what his purpose is for meeting," Tollner said. "I really presume it serves no other purpose other than to give him a platform to say, 'I care,' when in fact this particular person doesn't."

He added that Murphy "had seven years to answer and help and listen, and he never responded."

Sean Dolan, a spokesman for the diocese, said the diocese never confirms any of the bishop's private meetings.

"I won't confirm there was or was not a meeting planned with Tollner." The bishop has said previously that he has met with alleged victims of priest sex abuse quietly and does not publicize it. Victims groups have said that he has not done enough to reach out to them.

Placa, 65, a former high-ranking priest in the diocese who was at the center of an alleged cover-up of priest sex abuse, was never charged by civil authorities with a crime.

He has repeatedly denied Tollner's accusations and described him as "a troubled kid, very emotional, who would fly off the handle easily."

Tollner says the abuse occurred when he was a teenage student at the now-defunct St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary in Uniondale, where Placa was a teacher and dean.

Placa was suspended as a priest for seven years following Tollner's public accusation in 2002.

After the Vatican's ruling, his priestly functions were restored, although he and Murphy agreed he would not be given a diocesan assignment.

Tollner and other protesters confronted Murphy outside St. Agnes Cathedral Dec. 6, denouncing the Vatican decision as a sham. Murphy told Tollner the decision was "out of my hands."

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